Character development for leaders as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Introduction: A Dilemma
This leadership teaching series is also useful as a curriculum for an addiction recovery class. Here’s a note from author Josh Staton regarding the translation from book to blog:
The original text of “The Resistance” was created to facilitate a Saturday morning men’s group. It eventually became a book and now a blog series. In this transition, some sections have been omitted or condensed. I believe the heart and spirit are still alive and well. This introduction post comprises the first four chapters of the book and covers a significant amount of ground.
Leadership will always face a dilemma: the self. The self does not want to focus on weakness. Ever. This is the design of the self. The self is bent towards preserving its interests and pursuing its wants. It would rather focus on its strengths than its weaknesses. The biggest problems with strengths are that they create blind spots which lead to pride. Once pride roots in, a downfall will follow as the writer of proverbs records.
As Christ followers, we must confront the gap between what the world says a leader should be versus what God’s word says a leader should be. We are to be The Resistance. Resist the urge to get swept up in the battle, to not be sifted, to not be weighed and found wanting.
Essentially, this series is an application of biblical scripture. Its primary focus is to fight the ever-present disease of the self. In business, I believe it is economical to build upon your strengths. It is easy to hire out the work you are not especially good at or feel an attachment to. However, in our personal lives we can’t just farm out the work, we must allow the gospel to refine our weaknesses in the following way:
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.John 15:2, ESV
Our objectives change as the years go by; weaknesses become strengths and new opportunities appear over the horizon as our character is refined. At times, growth is painful. But the yield it produces is what we must devote our attention to during these trying seasons.
As a natural result of this growth, our lives should begin to bear fruit for those people placed in our lives: our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. The way we do that is to model leadership after Jesus’ example and teachings. This is our primary mission; reconciliation to Christ and community.
Charting the Course – Define
If we are members of a family or a church, if we work a job or have neighbors… we are part of a community. Community is essentially defined as the people you live around or have contact with. Many of the people we come in contact with are for the better part strangers: the mailman, cashier at a department store, bag boy at the grocery store, a co-worker at the office, the neighbor who enjoys listening to AC/DC at 2am.
However, there are a number of encounters that eventually become relationships due to the close proximity and frequency of our encounters: a member from church, someone from school, individual from small group, parents of a friend of your child.
Application (Homework for addiction recovery class)
Take some time to reflect and pray over the following question. This determines your areas of influence and opportunities for being a servant leader. List them out, as many as you can think of.
What roles do you currently assume?
Charting the Course – Diagnose
Above we made a list of the areas where we fill a role or have influence. Over the years, I have found that trying to balance all of these roles and demands leads to exhaustion and frustration. When we do good in one area, another area gets neglected.
The apparent problem lies in the perceived ebb and flow of priorities being temporarily out of whack. Our struggle to find homeostasis does not resemble the swing of a pendulum going from one extreme to the other, but the fact that we almost always swing back to the out of whack priorities after a short period of time. We gravitate to doing good in what we usually do good in and neglect what we usually neglect unless a siren goes off and alerts us that the ship is keeling too far to one side. Begrudgingly we make adjustments and go about life until the siren goes off again. This becomes the repetitive cycle that we are going to take a look at a little deeper in our assignment this week.
Undoubtedly, as you were making your list, one if not a few areas are louder than the others. In this section we will now begin to narrow our focus. We do this with a two-part question to develop strengths by addressing weaknesses:Out of all of these roles, which one needs the most work and attention?
- Why does it need work? Why is it so loud? Out of all of these roles, which one needs the most work and attention?
Which one has the volume cut up the loudest on? In other words, which role are you experiencing the most frustration, disappointment, lack of hope or progress in? God will bring to mind and heart the area He wants you to make efforts in. These are not going to be your strong areas. These are going to be your weakest areas. Spend intentional time analyzing your weakest areas; the area where you say:
“I struggle with _________ the most, and if any progress is made it will have to be by God’s grace and through His guidance.”
2. Why does it need work? Why is it so loud?
- Spouse – arguments with husband/wife
- Parent – need a better relationship with kids
- Child – unforgiveness towards parents
- Employee – Patience toward a co-worker
This is reconnaissance for your battleplan and necessary for charting a proper course. Notice I use the word proper. If you are not analyzing and being specific, the waters will get murky very quickly, making it impossible to navigate and give an honest assessment. Focus on facts. Do not focus on your opinion of others, their responsibility or hearsay. This is about you.
Establish an Objective (Homework for addiction recovery class)
Now, using these answers we have the components to set an objective or goal; one that can be measured, and progress can be tracked. One quick note about setting a goal. This goal cannot be something as lofty and esoteric as world peace or become a better person. While noble, goals of that manner are too general and do not spell out specific actions. Our goal needs to be specific. Spell it out however elaborate you need to, we can whittle it down once we find out what it is. In essence, it will acknowledge a journey that has to be traveled. It will state:
“Here is where I am, but there is where I need to be.”
This objective will be what we focus on during the rest of our study. We will look at our weakest areas through the lens of each Beatitude and gauge how to apply each characteristic we learn from the gospel to it. I believe each Beatitude is a piece of the puzzle for us in our character development as followers of Christ and leaders of others, man or woman.
Final Consideration – Communication
This will not be an exhaustive investigation on the topic of communication. But it does bear mention and consideration.
Two Main Forms
- Direct – what you say and do
- Indirect – how it was heard and interpreted
- Occupational – Job
- Societal – out in the community
- Residential or Familial – Home
Many times, how we communicate at the house may be different than how we communicate at work, or in front of people at a meeting. Who usually is the recipient of the best of our communication skills and who gets to see us at our worst? It is one thing to put together a presentation and talk to strangers about something, but it is an entirely different thing to communicate effectively in your household.
Because it is not just your words that the members of your house hear, they also see your actions. It is that long string of your actions that will ultimately dictate what they hear from you, regardless of what you intended to say or do. This is how your life ultimately communicates to others what you value, indirectly.
- Confidence – Do you really believe what you are saying
- Clarity – Simplify the message to the main point. Do not busy the waters with auxiliary information or opinions.
- Consideration – Recognize who it is that you are speaking to and the proper time and place.
- Compassion – Always end with hope and understanding.
For us, as Christ followers and leaders, our lives must communicate and reflect our Savior to others. And for this reason, I am convinced, a leader must excel at communicating and is one of, if not the most important aspects of leadership.
For more information or to purchase The Resistance as a discipleship or leadership guide, or as a curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit:
If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.
Click to see other lessons in the Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader through the Beatitudes Teaching Series.